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Putin’s ‘mini-NATO’ is in danger as Azeri troops kill Russian peacekeepers

Russian peacekeepers stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh were killed in the shelling, the Kremlin said on Wednesday. This has dealt a blow to the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), as Azerbaijan claimed control of the breakaway region after a brief military offensive.

Russia’s defense ministry issued a statement on Wednesday saying that a car carrying Russian peacekeepers was attacked and that all the servicemen were killed. The announcement came shortly after Azerbaijan launched attacks in the region and ethnic Armenians control Nagorno-Karabakh. agreed to a ceasefire proposed by Moscow.

A protester talks with Armenian police officers during a demonstration in central Yerevan on September 20, 2023. Azerbaijan said it had ended its military operation in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, after Armenian forces separatists agree to lay down their arms and hold reintegration talks. .

The news comes as the CSTO, founded in 2002, appears to be a danger against the backdrop of violence raging in the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh. This is led by ethnic Armenians in the region and is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. The OTC is a military alliance of six post-Soviet states—Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan—that has been compared to a smaller version of NATO.

Tension has risen between Armenia and Russia, who have long been close allies. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that the Russian leader Vladimir Putin he has not been able to support his country amid clashes with neighboring Azerbaijan.

Newsweek The Russian Ministry of Defense and the OTC were contacted for comment by email.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have gone to war over Nagorno-Karabakh twice since the collapse of the Soviet Union, in the 1990s and 2020. Azerbaijan escalated the decades-old dispute on Tuesday after its defense ministry issued a statement saying “local anti-terrorist activities”. ” had been launched to “suppress large-scale provocations” in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Pashinyan has denounced CSTO inaction and a lukewarm response from Russia after triggering Article 4 of the security bloc in September 2022. It states that any “aggression against CSTO member states is considered by other participants as an aggression against everyone”.

This week, videos posted on social media showed protesters calling for Armenia to withdraw from the CSTO, while another appeared to show Armenians tearing up Russian passports and calling Russia the enemy.

Observers say Moscow’s lack of response could be due to the country pouring troops and military resources into Ukraine amid a counteroffensive by Kiev to retake territory in the war, now in its 19th month. .

Meanwhile, OTC members Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan issued a joint statement on Tuesday, expressing “grave concern regarding Armenian provocations against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.”

“Two members of the OTS [the Organization of Turkic States] they are also found in CSTO (Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan). However, they agreed with this strongly worded statement on Armenia, also a member of the CSTO,” Luke Coffey, a senior fellow at the US think tank Hudson Institute, wrote in X earlier. Twitteron Tuesday.

Coffey added that the move shows that Russia is weak and losing influence.

Mark Temnycky of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) said in an analysis on September 6 that, two decades after its founding, the CSTO is “fractured, emphasizing the weakening of the Kremlin’s power over its neighbors.”

And Pashinyan told POLITICO last week that the OTC’s peacekeeping mission had failed. “As a result of the events in Ukraine, Russia’s capabilities have changed,” he said.

Russia has said it is investigating the death of its peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh.


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